Food Safari presenter Maeve O’Mara grew infatuated with Greek life and culture as a young adult.
She says reading books about ancient Greek legends and tales captured her imagination as a young child.
“As a child growing up in the white-bread suburbs of Sydney, I adored reading books about Greek myths and legends.”
“One book, Tales of the Greek Heroes, opens with the most astounding description of Greece with its ‘towering mountains sloping steeply into the bluest of blue seas’ and ‘valleys green and silver with the leaves of a million olive trees’.
“It captured my imagination and I couldn’t wait to see it for myself the first chance I got.”
She eventually set off, aged 20, for the quiet forests of Corfu and the vibrant buoyancy of Cretan beaches.
“…I felt utterly beguiled by its people, its landscape and its food as I travelled on a Eurail pass between islands,” O’Mara says.
“Most times, the ferry was met by locals offering rooms in their homes. What utter joy to enter a Greek home and be welcomed into the ebb and flow of Greek island life.”
“Over the decades that followed, I have returned to the Greek Islands many times, enjoying the freedom of hiring motor scooters and zipping around winding roads to perfect secret beaches, that incredible water so clear and buoyant you feel like a superhero and can swim forever. Santorini was the first island to capture my heart but, over the years, I’ve also grown fond of the tiny island of Folegandros, as well as Limnos.”
“That said, no matter which island you go to, you’ll get caught up in philoxenia, the Greek spirit of hospitality.”
“I’ve been taking travellers to Greece now for 20 years, each time introducing them to that special philoxenia across four islands, including Evia, Lesvos, Limnos and Chios. Some of my favourite places to visit? Stay at Fanari Villas in Santorini and the stylish Anemomilos on Folegandros, enjoy lobster folmari at Giannakaros Fish Taverna in Kotsinas, Limnos, and hike around Paleochora on the south coast of Crete. A walking track winds through rocky gorges and takes you to hidden beaches. Swim wherever you can – the colour, the buoyancy, it’s something you’ll remember forever.”